If your Company has vehicles that are driven by employees or permits employees to use their own vehicles on the job then you should read this article.
According to the United States Labor Department Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
- Every 12 minutes someone dies in a motor vehicle crash,
- Every 10 seconds an injury occurs and
- Every 5 seconds a crash occurs.
Since a large number of these accidents occur during the workday or during the commute to and from work, employers often bear the cost of injuries that occur both on and off the job.
Motor vehicle crashes cost employers $60 billion annually in medical care, legal expenses, property damage, and lost productivity. They drive up the cost of benefits such as workers’ compensation, Social Security, and private health and disability insurance. In addition, they increase the company overhead involved in administering these programs.
The average crash costs an employer $16,500. When a worker has an on-the-job crash that results in an injury, the cost to their employer is $74,000. Costs can exceed $500,000 when a fatality is involved. Off-the-job crashes are costly to employers as well.
If these statistics have caught your attention, you should be asking yourself the question What Can My Company do to Reduce its Financial Risk from Employee Motor Vehicle Accidents?
The following 10-Step Program provides guidelines for what an employer can do to improve traffic safety performance and minimize the risk of motor vehicle crashes. Following these steps helps to ensure that you hire capable drivers, only allow eligible drivers to drive on company business, train them, supervise them, and maintain company vehicles properly. Adherence to these 10 steps can also help to keep your motor vehicle insurance costs as low as possible.
- Senior Management Commitment & Employee Involvement – The buy-in must come from the top of your organization and driven downward.
- Written Policies and Procedures- The Company should distribute a written statement emphasizing the commitment to reducing traffic-related deaths and injuries is essential to a successful program. Create a clear, comprehensive and enforceable set of traffic safety policies and communicate them to all employees.Examples of such policies are the following:
- Drug and Alcohol Use Policy – XYZ Company has a vital interest in maintaining safe, healthy, and efficient working conditions for its employees. Therefore, the consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs by any employee during “duty hours” is prohibited. Duty hours consist of all working hours, including break periods and on-call periods, whether on or off company premises. The consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs while performing company business or while in a company facility is prohibited.
- Seat Belt Use Policy – XYZ Company recognizes that seat belts are extremely effective in preventing injuries and loss of life. It is a simple fact that wearing your seat belt can reduce your risk of dying in a traffic crash by 45 percent in a car and by as much as 60 percent in a truck or SUV. We care about our employees, and want to make sure that no one is injured or killed in a tragedy that could have been prevented by the use of seat belts. Therefore, all employees of XYZ Company must wear seat belts when operating a company-owned vehicle, or any vehicle on company premises or on company business; and all occupants are to wear seat belts or, where appropriate, child restraints when riding in a company-owned vehicle, or in a personal vehicle being used for company business. All employees and their families are strongly encouraged to always use seat belts and the proper child restraints whenever they are driving or riding in any vehicle, in any seating position.
- Driver Agreements – Establish a contract with all employees who drive for work purposes, whether they drive assigned company vehicles or drive their personal vehicles. By signing an agreement, the driver acknowledges awareness and understanding of the organization’s traffic safety policies, procedures, and expectations regarding driver performance, vehicle maintenance and reporting of moving violations.
- Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) Checks – Check the driving records of all employees who drive for work purposes. You must screen out drivers who have poor driving records since they are most likely to cause problems in the future. The MVR should be reviewed periodically to ensure that the driver maintains a good driving record. Clearly define the number of violations an employee/driver can have before losing the privilege of driving for work, and provide training where indicated.
- Crash Reporting and Investigation – Establish and enforce a crash reporting and investigation process. All crashes, regardless of severity, should be reported to the employee’s supervisor as soon as feasible after the incident. Company traffic safety policies and procedures should clearly guide drivers through their responsibilities in a crash situation. All crashes should be reviewed to determine their cause and whether or not the incidents were preventable. Understanding the root causes of crashes and why they are happening, regardless of fault, forms the basis for eliminating them in the future.
- Vehicle Selection, Maintenance and Inspection – Selecting, properly maintaining and routinely inspecting company vehicles is an important part of preventing crashes and related losses.
- Disciplinary Action System – Develop a strategy to determine the course of action after the occurrence of a moving violation and/or “preventable” crash. There are a variety of corrective action programs available; the majority of these are based on a system that assigns points for moving violations. The system should provide for progressive discipline if a driver begins to develop a pattern of repeated traffic violations and/or preventable crashes. The system should describe what specific action(s) will be taken if a driver accumulates a certain number of violations or preventable crashes in any pre-defined period.
- Reward/Incentive Program – Develop and implement a driver reward/incentive program to make safe driving an integral part of your business culture. Safe driving behaviors contribute directly to the bottom line and should be recognized as such. Positive results are realized when driving performance is incorporated into the overall evaluation of job performance. Reward and incentive programs typically involve recognition, monetary rewards, special privileges or the use of incentives to motivate the achievement of a predetermined goal or to increase participation in a program or event.
- Driver Training/Communication – Provide continuous driver safety training and communication. Even experienced drivers benefit from periodic training and reminders of safe driving practices and skills. It is easy to become complacent and not think about the consequences of our driving habits.
- Regulatory Compliance – Ensure adherence to highway safety regulations. It is important to clearly establish which, if any, local, state, and/or federal regulations govern your vehicles and/or drivers.
For further information, please refer to OSHA’s Guidelines for Employers to Reduce Motor Vehicle Crashes.